The Washington Post
Should she offer to raise sibling’s kids?
Adapted from an online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My brother and his wife love their kids, and yet everything I see suggests they hate being parents. “Rachel” complains incessantly about things that are very normal and makes dramatic social media posts about how hard her life is as a mom. She used to post crying selfies about it, but I think a friend told her it was a bad look. She has a career she is very good at, and I think it’s possible she was meant to focus on that instead. My brother is a good dad but similarly full of complaints.
I cannot get the idea out of my head that I should offer to take the kids in. I sincerely believe my husband and I could make room in our brood for the kids’ cousins. I am looking for a way to approach this question that doesn’t alienate them forever. Or is it a completely crazy thought that I should just put away?
Anonymous: Here’s one I haven’t seen before.
It's both valid and completely out there.
Valid: Some people do regret becoming parents, and some of their kids feel that regret acutely.
Completely bananas: Leaping from weepy selfies to an offer to take someone's kids away.
The slim bit of sane overlap might be to offer to host the kids for a weekend here and there, a school vacation week, maybe a summer if these smaller trials are rewarding for all involved.
This is something relatives do for each other all the time under normal circumstances, so you don't even have to come up with inoffensive language to make the offer: “Hey, we were thinking how great it would be to host all the cousins some upcoming weekend. What do you think?” See how that plays out.
If the wayyy more likely scenario is true, they just need a breather, then there it is. If the worst is true, there's a serious problem in this home, then a weekend will be a test run for a refuge.
• I can’t imagine the logical leap is to offer to take the kids in rather than to say, “Hey, you seem like you’ve been struggling. Are you okay? Is there anything I can do?” and then hear them out. Maybe they’re having a tough phase that will pass. Maybe they want to be able to express when stuff is going rough without people thinking they forever would prefer not to continue to raise their kids. Yes, it was guano loco crazy to make that leap.
• Holy smokes. I don’t like kids and am not at all suited to parenting, both things that I didn’t learn until after I had my own kids. But I love them and am committed to them. I would think very hard about why you want to cast yourself not as the unsung hero who provides unconditional support and love to this family, but the starring hero who is going to show the whole world you can raise your brother’s children.
• I stayed with relatives when I was 12, and it worked out great for the summer. I was just bummed it wasn’t permanent because it’s no fun to keep being reminded that you are the source of your parents’ misery.
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